We evaluate the relationship between foraminiferal test size and shell geochemistry (δ13C, δ18O, and Mg/Ca) for two of the most commonly used planktonic foraminifers for paleoceanographic reconstruction in the subtropical Atlantic Ocean: the pink and white varieties of Globigerinoides ruber. Geochemical analyses were performed on foraminifera from modern core-top samples of high-accumulation rate basins in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Mg/Ca analysis indicates a positive relationship with test size, increasing by 1.1 mmol/mol (~ 2.5 °C) from the smallest (150–212 μm) to largest (> 500 μm) size fractions of G. ruber (pink), but with no significant relationship in G. ruber (white). In comparison, oxygen isotope data indicate a negative relationship with test size, decreasing by 0.6‰ across the size range of both pink and white G. ruber. The observed increase in Mg/Ca and decrease in δ18O are consistent with an increase in calcification temperature of 0.7 °C per 100 μm increase in test size, suggesting differences in the seasonal and/or depth distribution among size fractions. Overall, these results stress the necessity for using a consistent size fraction in downcore paleoceanographic studies. In addition, we compare downcore records of δ18O and Mg/Ca from pink and white G. ruber in a decadal-resolution 1000-year sedimentary record from the Pigmy Basin. Based on this comparison we conclude that pink G. ruber is calcifying in warmer waters than co-occurring white G. ruber, suggesting differences in the relative seasonal distribution and depth habitat of the two varieties.
Additional publication details
Ecological controls on the shell geochemistry of pink and white Globigerinoides ruber in the northern Gulf of Mexico: implications for paleoceanographic reconstruction